In early 1996, I was desperately looking for something to do. I had always wanted to take a shot at an ongoing comic. I had no idea, practically, how to proceed. I got as far as the concept of a petshop called Mr. Pet and run by its eponymous owner. It had to be simple enough that I could draw it. I still think the basic set-up, following the daily lives of all the pets in the shop, and Mr. Pet himself, would have generated good gags for years. I drew a few, posted here, and right around then I got my big break in the game industry. I still think about Mr. Pet from time to time, and today I was happy to discover the few old strips I sat down and finished on May 17, 1996.
I am slowly gathering and organizing my papers to donate to a special collection. Over the years, sporadically, I have carried pocket sized notebooks; most recently plain manila Moleskines, but I think the habit started here:
Then there was the time I got quoted in Entertainment Weekly:
Why not make a special collection truly special?
After hearing me talk about David Fincher’s abandoned animated “400 Boys” project (part of an attempt to revive Heavy Metal as a 3D feature) on The Outer Dark podcast (listen in for the full story), Anya Martin of that very same podcast contacted Raymond Swanland and managed to get permission to post two pieces of concept art. There’s an image of Slash confronting one of the 400 Boys, and then a promotional image featuring a Galrog. Since I own the property on which these images are based, I’m going to see if I can help get permission to display the rest of Raymond’s wonderful work on this project. If nothing else, it would be nice to be able to run the images alongside the story, even if only online.
Fantastic Fiction at KGB has posted their recording of the reading I did there last week. This includes “The Finest, Fullest Flowering” and my new, improved Frankenstein, now with actual monsters.
Daniel Braum read an unpublished work, and they hold off posting those until the story has been published.
There are also photos of the event!
I have started seriously tackling the work of turning my old novels into ebooks. Spent all day on Dad’s Nuke, and got far enough along that I carried on in the first pass of reformatting Kalifornia in the evening. My only plans at the moment are to do Kindle editions. One format has enough headaches, considering how many devices run the app. I might consider doing other versions at some point, depending on how fast I get at the work and how much interest there is in the Kindle versions. If there is little to no interest in the Kindle editions, then I probably won’t be spending a lot of time on versions that reach even fewer people.
The biggest headache I’m having at this point is around any kind of novel formatting. This will strongly discourage me from doing any adventurous type or layout experimentation in future self-publishing endeavors. On the other hand, when I’ve left this sort of thing to actual type professional, I’ve sometimes been disappointed in their work as well. Done well, typographic experiments are thrilling. They are rarely done well. (See my story “Roguelike” for an example of graphic designers doing the absolute minimum amount of work necessary to bring a typographic idea to life, so that something intended to be fun and funny just…lies there. (I have definitely been spoiled by my years of working in close collaboration with visual artists at Valve.))
Christopher Priest has been one of my favorite writers since I first encountered his stories in the mid-Seventies. Most people probably know him from Christopher Nolan’s film adaptation of The Prestige, which doesn’t come close to capturing the disorienting weirdness and terrors of the novel. Most of his novels, reliably, freak me out. I can’t even describe what it is he does so effectively that creates a sense of reality undermined, but he does it over and over again. It has been a source of frustration that I’ve never read a few of his books, but I’m less frustrated right now, having discovered that Valancourt Books has been reissuing a number of them in inexpensive ebook editions.
I have read none of these yet, but The Prestige is on offer too, and I recommend it highly…as I do all Priest’s work.
I love audiobooks, but I have always been constitutionally incapable of listening to my own work being read aloud. (I read it aloud when I’m working on it, but the sound of my own voice played back is (of course) like chalk on a nailboard.) However, even I managed to enjoy this reading of “The Finest, Fullest Flowering” by Stefan Rudnicki. I’d go so far as to say he nailed it.
I am a big fan of podcasts with or without me in them. This is one of the former. (So far the only one.)